Telstra’s (Postpaid) SIM Only Plans – Is paying so much more for the network worth it?
- When it comes to Telstra’s SIM Only plans, we all know they cost more.
- The question is – does’t Telstra’s service warrant the extra ?
- The short answer, in our view, is no.
- We do not advise on paying more to get the Telstra network.
- (Unless you are one of the literally 1% of the population who lives in the far bush, that is.)
- Or you love some of the new content offers that Telstra has in place. (We have a lot of detail on content, below.)
- In this article, we show you the truth about the coverage offered by the phone networks in Australia.
- And outline options to get on the Telstra Mobile Network without getting a plan from Telstra themselves.
Introducing Telstra’s Postpaid SIM Only Plans
Telstra are not always easy to love. Their huge size means they’re great for big business and government contracts but can be hard for individuals to deal with.
Big T have been part of the fabric of Australia for as long as most of us have been alive. It’s hard to imagine Australia without them. That said, Telstra are not always easy to love. Their huge size means they’re great for big business and government contracts but can be hard for individuals to deal with. A quick trip around their website or customer service organization and you will remember the frustration of working with them. They are so big, they’ve become unwieldy.
In this article, we discuss both the good and the not so good things about Telstra. We go on to tell you how you can get the best of both worlds if you’d like to (great coverage and great pricing).
There are a couple of ‘insider’ facts that seem likely to help you in weight up the pros and cons of Telstra’s SIM Only Plans.
- Telstra’s network is not as good as you think it is:
First of all, Telstra’s network coverage is not nearly as substantial (in terms of population coverage or availability of 4G signal) as most people think it is.
- You can get cheap deals on the Telstra Mobile Network :
Secondly there are a number of phone companies who resell the Telstra Mobile Network (now with 4G.) They typically have better deals than Telstra themselves. We show you which, of these options, is our preferred Telstra Mobile Network resellers, below.
That said, Telstra do have some nice value adds in their service. Notable among them is their sports and entertainment content options. You can only get some of these content value adds with Telstra. And, if they appeal to you, they alone could be enough to get you across the line on taking a Telstra SIM.
Let’s start by looking at the basics of Telstra’s plan structure. Then we can consider their content offerings and the all important network question.
Telstra SIM Card Only / Everyday BYO Review
Nearly 60% of people now eschew 24 month agreements with the phone companies, preferring, instead, to buy the phone outright and add the SIM themselves.
SIM Only plans are a big deal. Australians hate being tied in to 2 year contracts before they can upgrade their phone. Nearly 60% of people now eschew 24 month agreements with the phone companies, preferring, instead, to buy the phone outright and add the SIM themselves.
Overseas providers of phones provide users phone hardware cheaply, often on the grey market. eBay and other second hand phone vendors offer better priced alternatives to the latest thing for more price conscious customers.
Together, these forces have changed the market for phone services in Australia dramatically. Over the last 3-5 years, SIM only and prepaid plans have become the biggest single selling plans at all of the major Australian telecommunications companies.
To address the customer need and the business opportunity it presents, Telstra provide two suites of SIM Only plan.
Telstra’s 2 Different Types Of SIM Only Plans:
We usually recommend the month to month variants of these plans for a simple reason; Data pricing falls so regularly that, in a few months, you are almost always likely to be able to get more data how ever much you spend.
1 ) Everyday BYO (Bring Your Own) Plans:
Almost uniquely in the Australian market, Telstra’s BYO plans offer you the option of a 12 month SIM Only contract.
Pricing starts at $35 per plan per month for both 12 month contracts. Voice inclusions are not all unlimited. We cover more of the features and inclusions below.
Contracts can be useful if you don’t switch often. And obviously, the inclusions they give you are slightly better to entice you in. They want to know you’ll be around for a while.
2 ) No Contract / Month to month agreements:
Telstra also match the majority of competitors with plans which do not require you to take out a contract with Telstra. On these, you can change your plan up and down according to your usage, every month, without penalty.
It’s worth noting, rates on both plans are the same. 40 cent connection, 99 cents a minute. So a 2 minute call is $2.38. (Remember, inclusions are what they give you. $350 of value is an inclusion. $2.38 is the rate – that’s how quickly you work through your usage).
So, which, of Telstra’s offerings, are best?
Contract plans, while rare, are not a bad thing. The choice as to whether you want a month to month agreement or a 12 month contract comes down to your willingness to compare phone plan alternatives. If you are the kind of person who always knows where the best SIM Only deals are then a month to month agreement might be for you.
On the other hand, if you are likely to compare less frequently, perhaps even, realistically, only once a year, then a 12 month agreement might be for you.
We usually recommend the month to month variants of these plans for a simple reason. Data pricing falls so regularly that, in a few months, you are almost always likely to be able to get more data for however much you’re spending. To put that in terms which are as clear as possible : If you spend $30 now and get 2GB, in 6 months, a $30 spend is likely to get you 3GB or more. If you’re locked in to a contract with Telstra, you won’t get the benefit of price drops like this.
Remember, Telstra also have prepaid plans, which are month to month agreements of their own sort. If you’re not sure what a prepaid plan is, we explain the differences here.
Telstra’s content offerings are unique and impressive
Are you a mad footy fan ? Do you love the AFL ? Would you watch these games on your phone ? If you do value these things, Telstra (and the premium they charge) might be right for you
Content is the big thing in phone plans this year. As you would expect, Optus and Telstra have been dishing it out to each other pretty good in a bid to win customers. If you take a postpaid or SIM Only plan from Telstra, you’ll get some unique content.
- All Telstra customers get AFL and NRL ‘Season Passes’:
Whether you are a Telstra prepaid or a Telstra SIM Only customer, you will be given one free season pass to either the AFL or NRL season. If you want both codes on your phone, you can have them but you’ll have to pay for one. Access to the video content (of every game!) is through an app you can download from Telstra. The data you use to watch the games, even if it’s over the Telstra cellular network, is free of charge. In the industry, this is called ‘zero rating’ content and it is liable to save you a bunch. More generally, this facility is known as Streaming Video On Demand, SVOD and you’re liable to be seeing a lot more of it soon in phone plans from everyone.
- All Telstra’s customers get free streamed audio:
Streamed audio is the facility to listen to music, on your phone, which is provided through the mobile network you’re attached to. Telstra’s variant is Apple Music (Telstra even throw in a free subscription to that service) and you’ll get this streamed option as part of any SIM Only or prepaid plan from the company. Generally, in our view, Optus’ equivalent facility which offers unmetered access to Spotify, Pandora, IHeartRadio and Google Play, seems like a better bet – purely because it appears to service so many more people / accounts. But it’s great both companies have a scheme in place.
Content or ‘entertainment’ is something that people are still getting used to in their phone plans. Its so new, they’re still really weighing up the value. That’s the question. Are you a mad footy fan ? Do you love the AFL ? Is streamed audio of value to you ? Would you watch these games on your phone ? If you do value these things, Telstra (and the premium they charge for the access to their plans) might be right for you.
Telstra’s SIM Only Plans – Feature comparison with Optus and Vodafone
Telstra’s size gives them some unique capabilities. Like turning on free WiFi in the town center of every conurbation in the country if they want to. Telstra started this trial of free WiFi, using the army of phone booths they have around the country within a few weeks of announcing their intention. Their first stage national rollout was completed a few months later in mid 2015. That is an impressively fast deployment by any telco standards.
Here’s a summary of Telstra’s SIM only plan features and how they compare to the direct equivalents with Vodafone and Optus.
Quick Summary of Telstra’s main plan features
|Automatically add extra data when your monthly allowance is finished.||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Share data over multiple devices||Yes. No set up or ongoing fee these days.||Yes. No set up or ongoing fee these days.||Yes. No set up or ongoing fee these days.|
|Overseas Roaming At Daily Charge||Yes. 'Travel Pass' is available if bought up front in multi-day pack. Small daily data allowance around 75MB.||Yes. Optus 'Travel Pack' zoned system, typically $10 a day auto enabled. Gives you 50 MB of data.||Yes. Vodafone's scheme covers a broader range of countries at a lower daily fee of $5 per day. It too is auto activated.|
|Simple 'Yes' Insurance||Telstra's 'Premium Care Insurance' very similar to Optus'.||Yes. $14 per month. Reasonable terms.||Vodafone's scheme is similar to Optus'. 2 options - $10 / $15 per month.|
|Good Self Service App||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Free Video Content Access (SVOD)||No||EPL charged extra unless very high spend plans. Data is zero rated.||Free Stan subscription on some plans. Note - user pays for data used to watch the show.|
|Free Music Content Access||Yes. Free Apple Music. Includes subscription to Apple Music. Data is zero rated.||Yes. Multiple music services with data free through app.||Free Spotify access. Note - cost of data is passed on to use. (Is NOT zero rated.)|
|Free First Month's Data||25GB free of charge to users in the first month||No.||Data workout' us unmetered (uncharged) usage for the first 2 months.|
|Network Guarantee||Not marketed but does exist.||Yes.||Yes.|
|New Phone Feeling||Yes. Pay $180 per to upgrade upgrade your phone after 12 months.||No.||No.|
|Free WiFi when out and about||Yes. Telstra 'Air' free wifi at 650k locations in Oz.||No.||No.|
|Loyalty Rewards Scheme||Telstra Thanks! Cheap movie tickets. First refusal of event tickets.||Cheap movie tickets. First refusal of event tickets. Air BnB tie in.||No|
|Adult content filter protection?Scheme||Telstra Mobile Protect. Set up through My Account.||None||None|
|Voice over WiFi app ?||Yes. App requires Telstra home phone rental. Minutes charged against home phone bill.||Yes. Best of the lot.||No.|
Automatic addition of extra data:
It was Optus which started this feature on their ‘My Plans’ SIM Only suite back in 2013. Telstra launched soon after. Telstra’s automatic top up of data counters one of the worst parts of phone bills which has been in place for a long time: bill shock on SIM Only plans. Typical out of bundle rates for data (this is what you’re charged when you exceeded your data allocation for the month) were 10c per MB. There are (around a) 1000 or so MB in a GB. So, if customers went over their data limit by 1GB, they’d pay $100 for it with Telstra ! Family plans are a way of solving a problem that works for the phone companies. In our view, what you should do is buy a data bundle you need and manage your usage. Adding extra data automatically sounds good but could leave you with an extra GB on the final day of the month for example. Still, data add ons are better than bill shock.
Shared Data over multiple devices ( a.k.a. ‘Family Plans’ ):
The average Australian home has 7 wireless devices, they say. If you want to share your data allocation across more than one device, you’ll pay $10 per additional tablet or smartphone every month. It’s great that Telstra have this facility. It’s nuts that they charge for it. It’s proper bonkers they charge you every month. Optus have a set up fee but no ongoing charge. Vodafone have also implemented a ‘Family Plan‘. So, whichever phone company you go with, you’ll get this feature.
Things get tricky when you start to talk about overseas roaming. There are a lot of countries in the world and they have to be banded in to a pricing scheme which approximates something understandable. In principal, Telstra will charge you either $5 per day or $10 per day every day (depending on where you go) you’re overseas and give you unlimited SMS and talk back to Australia for that price. The key difference between Telstra’s offering here and Vodafone’s (apart from the pricing, where Vodafone usually win) is data. Telstra and Optus only give you 50 MB of data for each day while you’re overseas. Vodafone allow you to use your full allocation just as if you were at home.
Good Self Service App:
After no small amount of time and investment, Telstra’s 24×7 app for Self Service and Account Management is extremely good. So are the alternatives from Vodafone and Optus. You can manage your SIM Only plan just fine from this Self Service app. You can also use the app for any type of contract plan from Telstra. We always advise people to take advantage of these fantastic apps. They help you manage your data and get the most out of your service, for free and without having to wait on hold all the time.
Content is a whole new battlefield for the phone companies. We have a special section to draw out the key differences, above.
Free WiFi / Telstra ‘Air’:
Telstra are the only phone company who are offering free WiFi to their customers through their own phone booths at the moment. In time, Telstra users will be able to latch on to these WiFi signals and download until their heart’s content. It will come of their phone data allocation. Users of other networks will have to pay a small fee to use the same Telstra WiFi.
Telstra’s Loyalty scheme is called Telstra ‘Thanks’. If you stay with them long enough, you’ll get some cinema tickets or other small reward. It’s a nice to have scheme at best and should not (in our view) influence your decision as to which network to go with. These rewards are to trick the rational bit of your brain. Don’t fall for it.
Telstra’s network is not as good as you think
You can get almost exactly the same population coverage and 4G signal availability from Optus or a network reseller and pay far less.
You cannot have missed the coverage of the consistent network outages that Telstra suffered during the early part of 2016. Those networks crippled the Telstra customer base – they were literally without coverage for long periods of time. They also brought to light the fact that an increasing proportion of Australians now know. Telstra’s network advantage is not what it once was.
Starting with 3G coverage, Optus covers 98.50%
of the population. Telstra covers 99%
of the population. Not much of a gap there, is there.
Trying to make this real for you: Across Australia, less than one percent of people will benefit from having Testra’s network!
Although public perception is often different, Optus’ 4G network is almost identical for availability to Telstra’s. The most up to date research says that Optus’ 4G network is available to people 73.4%
, Telstra is available 76.3%
Have a think about that. In real terms, the availability of a 4G signal is almost always the same whether you’re on the Telstra or the Optus network. There is virtually no difference in the quality of coverage these companies offer, when it comes to being able to practically present you with a 4G signal.
These are the latest statistics in market. The truth is, this information has been around for some time now. Two years ago, JD Powers offered a similarly slim margin to Telstra. The problem is Telstra have spent so long convincing us that their network was superior, we have started to believe it.
The key point here is that you can get almost exactly the same population coverage and 4G signal availability from Optus or a network reseller and pay far less.
Alternatives – companies which lease their network from Telstra
Prices are also pretty eye watering and you will pay top dollar for a phone plan if you go direct to the big T.
Did you know that Vodafone, Optus and Telstra are the only three mobile providers in Australia that actually own and run their own mobile network?
However, Telstra’s prices are pretty eye watering. You will pay top dollar for a phone plan if you go direct to the big T. These days you have more options. There is a plethora of other phone plan providers (in the industry, they’re known as MVNOs) or network resellers. They that sell phone plans using the Telstra Mobile network. What’s great about this? Lots of choice and competition brings the cost, to you, the consumer, down.
Summing up Telstra’s SIM Only Plans
Adding things like the NRL / AFL in to their phone plans is now the only way to justify the frankly horrifyingly expensive postpaid SIM Only plans that Telstra have in market.
There’s a reason Telstra has refocused it’s SIM Only and Prepaid plan offering around content this year. They have to provide content as part of their SIM Only plans so that people will keep buying them.
Pausing to think for a moment reveals the underlying reason for their strategy. Telstra’s network advantage is not what it once was. As Australians, we have our fingers on the pulse of how our friends and family feel about the networks which make up part of our every day life. People have stopped complaining about the Vodafone network. They don’t complain about Optus’ either. Telstra no longer say things on their website like ‘the network without equal.’ They can’t. Because the other networks pretty much do equal them these days.
Adding things like the NRL / AFL in to their phone plans is now the only way to justify the frankly horrifyingly expensive postpaid SIM Only plans that Telstra have in market. Just compare what a $35 spend will get you with Telstra and then with a competitor.
If you are one of the 0.5% of people who live outside Optus’ coverage footprint and have no option but to buy a Telstra SIM, well, that’s a tough gig. Our suggestion is that you go ahead and get one. Don’t worry too much though, Telstra may have to share their network with Optus before too long.
If you’re not in that 0.5%, and you’re prepared to look rationally at alternatives, you will find many credible options available to you. We think Boost Mobile’s plans are particularly attractive. We love the new range they offer and the fact they provide more data for you on the weekend. Remember, Boost use the Telstra Mobile network.
In fact, even if sport is important to you, you have more options than you might think. OVO Mobile provide access to unmetered V8 Supercar racing in the same way that Telstra do for the AFL / NRL. Optus’ SIM Only plans come with access to the EPL (English premier League) although you may be charged extra for it.
See all SIM Only plans
If you need another network, for example you’re after an unlimited plan with Telstra coverage, or you live in a city and you’re happy with Vodafone, you might like to check our SIM Only Comparison page and compare all the plans ( including every one mentioned on this page. )
COMPARE ALL SIM ONLY PLANS